The Past In Person

Learn About The People From America's Past Through Music and Song

Michael Deren - The Past In Person

Journey into the past through the music, songs and words of the common people whose labor built America. This is a multi‑faceted, audience‑centered program that can educate, delight, and enthrall. It will motivate and encourage participants to learn more about the past that surrounds them.


Lumberjack/Shanty Boy

Canal Boat Captain


Civil War Musician


Scottish Iron Worker

CCC  Enrollee 1941

Scottish Iron Worker

Railroad Engineer


Schooner Captain


Lumberjack/Shanty Boy from Northern Michigan of the 1870's. He plays the concertina, fiddle, bones, limbertoys, button accordion, and hammered dulcimer and shares songs and stories of life in the lumber camps.  Listen to audio demo:  Lumberjack-audio-demo.mp3 


Canal Boat Captain of 1840 takes you on a musical journey from New England to the Michigan wilderness via the Erie Canal. He plays the banjo, concertina, bones, penny whistle and limbertoys and shares songs and stories of the canal.  Listen to audio demo: Canal-Boat-audio-demo.mp3


Civil War Musician of 1865 presents life as a soldier-musician in the Union Army. He shares the humor, pain and excitement of the war years through song. He plays saxhorn, fife, concertina, bones and bugle.  Listen to audio demo:  Civil-War-audio-demo.mp3


Railroad Engineer from 1870 takes you on a musical journey on the Transcontinental Railroad. Our destination?  California! He plays guitar, concertina, and penny whistle and shares the stories and songs of the people who built it.  Listen to audio demo: Railroad-Engineer-audio-demo.mp3


Schooner Captain of 1875 sails the Great Lakes delivering passengers and cargo to ports from Buffalo to Chicago and Duluth. Using button accordion and concertina he shares the songs, history and resources of the Great Lakes region.


Scottish Iron Worker from Northern Michigan of the 1880's presents a look at America's early iron making industry. Using accordions, concertina, cornet, penny whistle and bagpipes, the iron worker talks about life in a furnace town and the growth, development and importance of iron‑making in America.


CCC Camp Enrollee 1941 (Civilian Conservation Corps) goes to work for President Roosevelt and the nation to help rebuild America's natural and human resources. Join the CCC and become a member of Roosevelt's Tree Army! The CCC Enrollee plays the bugle, concertina and washboard and presents life in the CCC camps from 1933-1942. Learn about the CCC and what if did for the young men who served their country during its nine‑year existence. Learn what the CCC's 3.4 million men did for America's future and how we are still reaping the benefits of their hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

Presentation and Performance Information

Administrators, Teachers, Gifted and Talented Coordinators


Contact me to see how I can enhance your curriculum.  The programs can be

tailored to meet your needs.  Anything from a 45 minute assembly to a one week

residency is possible.


Appropriate for all ages!

  • Schools
  • Community Groups
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Historical Societies
  • Talented and Gifted Programs
  • Senior Citizens
  • Parks

 Ideal Enrichment Activity for...

  • Michigan Week
  • Michigan History Courses
  • Study of..
    ‑Early American Industry
    ‑The Civil War
    ‑Western Migration and Expansion of America in the 1800's
    ‑Transportation Systems ‑The Great Lakes

Performer's Background

  • Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts.
  • Master's Degree in Woodwind Instruments from the University of Michigan.
  • Taught instrumental and general music in grades 4-12 and college.
  • Over fifteen years teaching experience.
  • Programs presented since 1985.
  • Avid hiker, photographer, outdoorsman and amateur historian.

Cost Specifics
 per half day

per 45 minutes assembly program

per evening program

-- please call or write for current prices --


Support is available through:

Michigan Humanities Council

The Heartland Arts Fund


I prefer school group sizes to be a maximum

of 200, but group size will also depend on your

needs and your budget. Contact me‑I'm flexible.


Write or Call:   Michael Deren - 2640 Powell, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 - (734) 663-9634